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Comparative Sensitivity of Transthoracic and Transesophageal Echocardiography in Diagnosis of Infective Endocarditis Among Veterans With Staphylococcus aureus Bacteremia.

BACKGROUND: Echocardiography is fundamental for diagnosing infective endocarditis (IE) in patients with Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia (SAB), but whether all such patients require transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) is controversial.

METHODS: We identified SAB cases between February 2008 and April 2012. We compared sensitivity and specificity of transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) and TEE for evidence of IE, and we determined impacts of IE risk factors and TTE image quality on comparative sensitivities of TTE and TEE and their impact on clinical decision making.

RESULTS: Of 215 evaluable SAB cases, 193 (90%) had TTE and 130 (60%) had TEE. In 119 cases with both tests, IE was diagnosed in 29 (24%), for whom endocardial involvement was evident in 25 (86%) by TEE, vs only 6 (21%) by TTE ( P < .001). Transesophageal echocardiography was more sensitive than TTE regardless of risk factors. Even among the 66 cases with adequate or better quality TTE images, sensitivity was only 4 of 17 (24%) for TTE, vs 16 of 17 (94%) for TEE ( P < .001). Among 130 patients with TEE, the TEE results, alone or with TTE results, influenced treatment duration in 56 (43%) cases and led to valve surgery in at least 4 (6%). It is notable that, despite vigorous efforts to obtain both tests routinely, TEE was not done in 86 cases (40%) for various reasons, including pathophysiological contraindications (14%), patient refusal or other patient-related factors (16%), and provider declination or system issues (10%).

CONCLUSIONS: Patients with SAB should undergo TEE when possible to detect evidence for IE, especially if the results might affect management.

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